Monday, December 28, 2009

Creamy Mushroom Soup

After the overindulgences at Christmas, I don't really feel like cooking a lot. (And even the thought of sweets makes me slightly ill!) This is an easy, homey dinner that makes great leftovers as well. You could easily omit the dried mushrooms, but they seem to give the soup an even richer depth of flavour... along with the cognac, which is my new "secret" ingredient in almost everything. I like to keep the texture of this quite rustic, rather than making it a puree.

Mushroom Soup (serves 4):
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
1 litre water
1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
24 oz button mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 leek, finely chopped
salt & pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup cream
3 tbsp cognac

Bring the stock, water, and dried mushrooms up to a boil in a large soup pot. While that is heating, fry the butter, leeks, and mushrooms until softened and browned. Dump that to the hot water and cook for about 1 hour, adding salt, pepper, and thyme to season. Pulse with an immersion blender until it's to your desired consistency, then add the the cream and cognac and bring it back up nearly to a boil.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Reese's PB Cookie Tarts

Well, here it is almost Christmas time. As I mentioned in my last cookie post, my mom came by to help me with Christmas baking (and more importantly child minding). This cookie is a real hit with all peanut butter and chocolate lovers. It looks really cute too!

Reese's PB Cookie Tarts:
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 package mini peanut butter cups

Cream the margarine, peanut butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla together. In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and blend into the creamed mixture. Shape into 1 inch balls and press into ungreased mini muffin tins (tins should be about 3/4 full).

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes - don't over bake! While cookies are baking, unwrap the peanut butter cups, and keep them in the fridge. As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, press a peanut butter cup into the centre of each cookie. Work quickly while the cookies are still soft and hot. Let the muffin tins cool completely before removing the cookies.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pear Clafoutis

Court and I invited the family over for a spur of the moment french dinner, featuring rabbit stew and this clafoutis for dessert. When we were deciding on what to make, we wanted something relatively simple since we were putting most of our effort into cooking rabbit for the first time. We remembered Chris' experiments in clafoutis back in June and decided to try our own.

Pear Clafoutis (adapted from Ina Garten):
1 tbsp butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar, plus enough to line dish
3 eggs
6 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp cognac
2-3 ripe Bartlett pears

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Butter a 1 quart/1 litre dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with sugar. In a bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, then mix in the flour, cream, vanilla seeds, zest, salt, and cognac. Set that aside and peel and slice the pears to line the dish. Pour the batter over the pears and bake around 30-40 minutes until the custard is firm and golden.

We used vanilla seeds instead of extract and added the cognac, and then tried to convince ourselves that fruit desserts are always healthy.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

The other day my lovely mother came over to help me watch the baby, and we did some Christmas baking. We actually made four different things all in one day! It's wonderful because now when people pop over I have sweets to pull out of the freezer. It also doesn't hurt that I refer to my mother as the baby wisperer. Seriously, the woman can calm the most angry baby as if it is nothing! There are days I wish she would move in with me...

These cookies are from my Canadian Living cookbook that I got when I got married. My husband thinks they are better than when I make my mom's chocolate chip cookies with pudding mix. I can't say I agree, but they are pretty good.

Oatmeal Cookies:
2/3 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and cinnamon. In a sparate bowl mix the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture along with the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Drop by heaping spoonful onto greased baking sheets and bake at 375 F for 10 minutes or until golden. Delish and great for freezing!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Marc's Creamy Salmon Miso Soup

I have been dreaming of this since I saw it 9 months ago on No Recipes. Mine doesn't have the lovely glistening fat that Marc's does, since it is so difficult to find salmon belly in land-locked Edmonton (and I didn't bother making the trek to any specialty shops to check for it). Still, it was ridiculously good and incredibly simple to make. I luckily had most of the ingredients on hand so only had to pick up soy milk and parsnips. And what was even better is that I got all the leftovers to myself!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Budget Salmon Wellington

Or, how to make 150g of salmon feed 3 people. This was a spur of the moment kind of meal, when Court & her husband invited me to stay for dinner but had no real plans. We searched the fridge and found just enough ingredients to make a delicious, filling supper. Without enough pastry to wrap these, it wasn't a true "Wellington" but we figured it was close enough. I love when random creations like this turn out to be something terrific; I'm sure we all know it doesn't always turn out that way.

Salmon Wellington:
150g salmon, cut into 3 pieces
25 shrimp
1 leek, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1/2 cup full cream
1/4 cup cream cheese
salt & pepper
1 block puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Put the leeks and carrots in a pan with a little bit of margarine and cook for a few minutes until they soften, then add the cream and cream cheese and stir together until melted and at your desired consistency to coat the seafood. Add dill, salt, and pepper to taste.

Next, oil 3 ramekins and line the bottom with shrimp. Layer some sauce on top, then add the salmon, more sauce, another layer of shrimp, and finally the last of the sauce. When I started to run out of the sauce I just added more cream to stretch it out a bit further. Roll out the puff pastry and cut out circles to top the ramekins, then coat with the egg wash. Bake in a 350F/180C oven until the pastry has browned.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mish Mash Mushroom Risotto

I am home solo tonight with the new babe, and I have to say this new life of mine is a serious adjustment. The little one seems to have colic - which is just another name for pretty much any baby discomfort that makes them miserable and so they cry about it for hours on end and there is nothing that seems to make it better. In an effort to feel just a tiny bit more in control of some part of my life, I decided to cook myself a decent meal, even though it was just me, even though I had to do most of it with the lovely background music of a baby crying. Sometimes when you feel like you are bad at being a mom, it is a tiny measure of comfort to remember that at least you are a good cook. That being said, if anyone has magic cures for colic - I welcome suggestions!

This risotto is based on my usual risotto recipe. In addition, I decided to mix in a little mixture Brooke gave me for "healthy rice" because I am breastfeeding, and therefore feel like I am doing a good thing any time I make any choice with the word "healthy" in it (it has flax seeds and other stuff like that in it). I also did not have white wine, so I put in a tiny splash of red, and I used onion soup base instead of chicken broth because I am trying not to eat actual onions (see above re: colic), and also my husband used the last of the chicken stock and we have about a foot of fresh snow on our roads telling me to stay home and make due with what I have.

Here is a picture of my finished dinner. That's right, I made a lobster tail to eat all by myself. I like to think I am classy like that.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cheese Scones

The other day I made leek soup with the last of my share of the leeks from the garden (and of course, didn't take pictures!). I decided I wanted to have cheese scones with it, and luckily made enough that I could photograph them the next day when I had a second. I found this recipe on The Foreign Kitchen blog after trying a couple of other recipes unsuccessfully. As long as you have a food processor this is a very quick and easy recipe to whip up. It's great to make when you want home baked bread but don't have the time to make it. Really, could anything with cheese melted on top be bad?

Cheese Scones:

2 cups of flour
4 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of salt
a pinch of ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp of Maple Syrup (I used sugar)
4 Tbsp of cold unsalted butter
1 egg beaten, combined with milk to make 3/4 cup
1 1/2 cup of grated cheddar (I used white cheddar to keep the scones lighter in colour)
3 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix the egg, milk, and syrup together. Cut and rub the butter into the flour (Use a food processor).

Now, I added 1 1/4 cups of grated cheddar to the flour and butter and combined these before I added the egg and milk mixture, but if you want an ooey-gooier texture stir the milk and egg mixture into the flour first and then fold in the cheese.

Looseley shape this into a disc, without handeling it too much. Turn it out onto a well floured suface, sprinkle it with the remaining 1/4 of cheddar and the Parmesan, and cut the disc into 8 slices. Place these onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or just greased) and bake at 475 Fahrenheit (250 Celsius) for 10 minutes until the tops are browned.The scones taste best fresh out of the oven, and even though they are savory a fresh gob of peach marmalade or a drizzling of honey makes these an extra special treat.